Monday, May 21, 2012

Be a man!

For God sake! KISS THE GIRL!!!

OK, I've been in bed, sick, since Friday. To keep myself amused while awake, I've been watching back-to-back episodes of Dawson's Creek and thinking about boys.

I know what you're thinking: That show, which was really bad, was mercifully ended several years ago now, so what are you doing? Why aren't you watching something with some moral and intellectual content like Buffy or Star Blazers? And yes, you'd be right, and I'd be embarrassed about it if I hadn't already admitted to you guys that I'd read all the Twilight books.

This show about rich teenagers, played by 20 year-olds, living in dream homes in some little coastal town in somewhere vaguely New Englandy/Martha's Vinyardy, so far, seems entirely to be about which of the two lead males is going to be the first to nail one or both of the two lead females. Glancing at YouTube videos of later seasons, I see that for the most part, this is what it keeps being about.

The writers seemed to think that the most interesting character was it's namesake, Dawson Leery, whom they present as a dreamy-eyed, 15 year-old, nice-guy who pines after girls but doesn't know what to do with the ones he gets, thinks Spielberg is the greatest film maker of all time and who keeps an ET "collectible" stuffed toy beside his bed. His "best friend" is a dewy, leggy, doe-eyed "Joey" who longs for the safe, cuddly, child-man to twig into why she continues, long after she has ceased to care about the art of film making, to come over and watch movies and sleep over in his bed (!!huh?!!) all innocent, like-when-they-were-kids.

In the first episode, Dawson-the-aptly-surnamed falls hard in crush with pouty-lipped ingenue Michelle Williams who has appeared in the tiny outback town to do penance by living with her (narrow-minded bigot Christian...zzzzzz) grandmother, after undergoing some dark and mysterious "bad thing" in the fabled opium dens and slave markets of Marrakech New York City. (I think she dies of cancer in the end because the writers just didn't know what to do with her when Whiney is finished with her and she ceases to be an interesting plot foil for the Perfect Bermuda Love Triangle.)

I hear the show was tremendously popular. And I think I recall hearing it's name bandied about some time in my mid to late thirties.

I've made it through to the end of the first season for one. single. reason: Pacey Witter, budding Real Man and Droopy's other "best friend" who spends all their mutual screen time together telling Blondie to man-up and Kiss. The. Girl! Any girl! just pick one and get going! Or decide not to. But for the love of Mike, fricken be a man about it.

Nice man-purse there dude, bet the chicks really dig it...

Pacey is supposed to be the dumb, smart-alecky "class clown" character who gives comic relief to the endless tedium of the emo teenybopper-talk. But in the 13 episodes I've watched so far, he has been the only character to develop the slightest shred of ... well... character. He's stoic. He keeps his feelings close to the chest. He has a rotten home life but doesn't perpetually moan about it. He knows that keeping up a cheerful demeanour, delivering one-liners, chasing (and catching) girls, punching bad guys and occasionally sticking it to the man, even at the risk of disaster, is more fun than his friend's perpetual hand-wringing and he spends a good deal of effort charitably smacking Blithery up the side of the head to try to jump start the wretched boy's testosterone generator.

Pacey is depicted as a smart-but-under-achieving good guy whose family has rejected him as the "loser" who will never amount to anything. Pacey thinks he is a loser, especially with girls and expects to be the one who stays behind in tiny Capeside pumping gas or tending bar. He's supposed to just be the sidekick.

In fact, Pacey is the one who, in the first ten episodes:
- Initiates an affair with his 36 year-old bombshell English teacher after plausibly falling in love with her
- Then when they're found out, manfully throws himself on the grenade for her, lying to the school board, saying the affair was a rumour he had started to make himself feel cool, destroying his own reputation to save hers;
- Tries to get a distraught Joey to stop drinking at a party after Mooney ditches her;
- Punches a much larger and older student making inappropriate advances on the now-drunk Joey;
- Steals the show with good natured manly charm at the snootily horrible Miss Capeside beauty pageant;
- Drives Joey to the prison in the middle of the night so she can be reconciled to her incarcerated father;
- spends all his remaining efforts boosting Twaddle's ego and pushing him together with Joey because it's what his best friend really wants but is too pathetic to try to get, even though he, Pacey, is now also in love with Joey;
- and finally is, in fact, the first one to actually KISS THE GIRL.

He has passion, charm, strength of character, is able to put his friends' needs before his own and comes through quietly every time someone is in a tight spot. He is, in short, the only interesting thing on the show, the only character so far that I care enough about to want to find out what happens to him, and the one on his way to secure, confident Alpha Maledom.

The thing is, and this is the point of the post, I think Hollywood thinks that he's not. I think the writers think that Drivelly and Joey are what the show is about. I get the feeling that the incredibly tedious, repetitive and irritating "drama" between Leggy, Snivelly and Pouty is supposed to be what the show is primarily about. But so excruciatingly dull has it been that I've just been fast forwarding over their scenes.

I've seen this before. Shows that were supposed to be about the politically correct, in-touch-with-his-feminine-side, safe intellectual, that often had a hulking, manly, doltish but ultimately well-meaning sidekick, nearly always end up being about the sidekick. Does anyone remember Meathead's real name? Can anyone now imagine Luke getting the girl? (Luke was so pathetic they had to make Leia his sister just to stave off the remotest possibility that Han Solo wouldn't get her.)

Did anyone see that British TV miniseries Life on Mars? It started out being about an enlightened, up-to-date, sophisticated modern man going back in time to the brutish streets of 1972 Manchester where he was supposed to show the barbarous thugs of the previous era a thing or two about modern policing, good nutrition, the dangers of sidestream smoke and being sensitive to the emotional needs of women in the workplace. Instead, John Simm got smacked around several times by Philip Glennister, ultimately learning how to drink, beat confessions out of suspects and chase women and bad guys in a '68 Mustang.

"The initial idea was for a humorous ... programme that overtly mocked the styles and attitudes of the 1970s." Then something strange happened. Modern, sophisticated, politically correct, in-touch-with-their-feelings British women fell madly in love with...Glennister, and emphatically not the weedy John Simm, at least until he'd toughened up a bit.

And this was something the BBC Actually. Didn't. Expect.


I don't actually remember a great deal of detail about my adolescence. And the bits I remember I wish I didn't. But I do quite distinctly remember the whole boy-girl thing. Having no parents around, I went through quite a lot more of it than perhaps I might have otherwise. It took me a long, long, long time to figure things out. And in the end, one of the big things I got was that I had no time for "modern" men.

Because, and here's the kicker, the Dawson Leerys of the world weren't actually the "nice guys". They were too weak. They had so much angst and enjoyed their angst so much that it made them useless.

So far, Flouncy has done nothing but wring his hands over whether he should or shouldn't "go out" with one, both or either of the two girls. This utter inability to gather up his gonads and act, for better or for worse, has made him useless as a friend to every other character, and has driven The Girl who (thinks she) is in love with him, to become so exasperated she is going to take a scholarship to France. France!

Moreover, after a school year of will-I-won't-I with Limpy alternately pining for her and rejecting her, Pouty's grandfather has a stroke and she has nowhere to turn but...dear heaven! the useless Dawson... who is so wrapped up in his little Hamlet imitation, that he utterly fails to be any use to her in the crisis.

The "nice guy" is such a pathetic dishrag he is incapable of being a good man.



Anonymous said...


You've written 1,554 words on "Dawson's Creek," striking the keyboard 8,688 times.

um...rainy day?

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...

I told you, in bed for four days.

Long days.

Ingemar said...

I don't get the following for Dawson's Creek. In most corners, D'sC is used as a punchline.

MargoB said...

Hi Hilary,

Have you seen any of the American TV series (it was on ABC from Oct-April), "Once Upon A Time" ? *Pretty* interesting, esp. when viewed allegorically.

I see that the 6 free episodes are still up. Here's the link:

Hope you enjoy them!

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...

Does it have Joshua Jackson in it? I'm on a big Joshua Jackson kick.